ALEX Lesson Plan


Want S'mores? Observing the Effects of a Solar Oven

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jennifer Phillips
System: Homewood City
School: Shades Cahaba Elementary School
Author:Katherine Thomas
System: Homewood City
School: Edgewood Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34197


Want S'mores? Observing the Effects of a Solar Oven


In this inquiry-based lesson, students will describe the effects sunlight has on s'mores using a solar oven.  Teacher will construct a solar oven for students to observe.  Students will observe and describe what happens to the chocolate and marshmallow over time.   

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
7 ) Observe and describe the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface (e.g., heat from the sun causing evaporation of water or increased temperature of soil, rocks, sand, and water).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.7: The Sun warms the land, air, and water and helps plants grow.

NAEP Statement::
E4.8: Weather changes from day to day and during the seasons.

NAEP Statement::
E4.9: Scientists use tools for observing, recording, and predicting weather changes from day to day and during the seasons.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Planning and Carrying out Investigations
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Observe the effects of sunlight on the Earth's surface.
  • Describe the effects of sunlight on the Earth's surface.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Sunlight
  • Earth
  • Surface
  • Evaporation
  • Temperature
Students know:
  • Sunlight warms the Earth's surface.
  • Know different patterns of relative warmth of materials in sunlight and in shade (e.g., hotter, warmer, cooler, and colder)
  • Materials on the Earth's surface can be investigated (e.g., dirt, sand, water) and described.
Students are able to:
  • Investigate the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface.
  • Observe the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface.
  • Describe the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface.
Students understand that:
  • Sunlight causes an observable effect on the Earth's surfaces including: water, soil, rocks, sand, grass.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather Walk
*Weather, STC
*Sunny Sandbox, ETA/hand2mind
*Clouds, GLOBE

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.K.7- Give examples of the sun's effects on the Earth (limited to heat and light).

Local/National Standards:

K-PS3-1 Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth's surface.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to describe the effects of sunlight on Earth's surface by observing changes in the solar oven.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Thermometer or temperature gun

1 solar oven 

graham crackers

milk chocolate drops

large marshmallows

observation sheet

oven mitt


Technology Resources Needed:


A version of this lesson plan can be found at Step by step directions for how to build the solar oven are included with pictures. Note that the s'mores for this activity need to be made using the graham cracker on the bottom, the marshmallow in the center, and the chocolate drop on the top due to the fact that the marshmallow will take longer to melt in the solar oven than the chocolate drop.  The chocolate drop will be added to the top after the marshmallow has been in the oven for 20 minutes. Depending on the number of students and whether or not you would like each student to have a s'more, vary the number of solar ovens used in the activity.


1. Introduce background information about our Sun and its effects on Earth's surface.  For example, informational books, short video clips, or NASA's online book Our Very Own Star: the Sun.  

2. Place thermometer in solar oven before placing in the sun on a clear, sunny day to record beginning temperature. The solar oven will need to sit outside in the sun to preheat for approximately 30 minutes.

3. While the solar oven is preheating, have students construct s'mores with the graham cracker on the bottom, marshmallow in the center, and chocolate drop on top. 

4. Using the observation sheet, students will draw what the s'more looks like prior to placement in the solar oven.

5. Using background knowledge, have students predict what they think will happen to their s'more in the solar oven.

5. Teachers will remove the chocolate drop before carefully placing s'mores in the solar oven. 

6. Wait 30-60 minutes for the marshmallow to become squishy or melt before adding the chocolate drops to the top. 

7. Teachers will use the oven mitt to remove plastic and place the chocolate drops on the top of the marshmallow.

8. Observe and wait another 5-10 minutes for the chocolate drop to melt.

9. Teachers will use the spatula to remove s'more and place on plates. Students will use another graham cracker to complete the s'more. Teachers will also need to observe the temperature on the thermometer and share with students.

10. Students will use observation sheet to draw a picture of the s'more after activity.

11. Teachers and students will discuss the effects of sunlight on the solar oven and s'more on the Earth's surface.

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Assessment Strategies

Using the observation sheet, have students brainstorm and respond to the final question, "What else would you like to put in your solar oven?" Make connections to foods that can be melted or changed in other ways when heat is added. (Examples: butter, rolls, etc.)


  • Place a black sheet of construction paper on the bottom one solar oven and a white sheet of construction paper on another. Compare results.
  • Try using the solar oven with a 100 watt light bulb in the classroom. Compare results.
  • Teachers and students can compare temperatures on thermometer before, during, and at the end of the activity.
  • Have students write a sentence to describe the results of the solar oven.


Teachers and students can orally discuss observations and results instead of using the observation sheet.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.